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Herman Cain Announced Dead from COVID-19 Today; Travel CEOs Issue Call for Increased Testing; John Lewis Penned Final Statement, Published in "The New York Times" Today as Former Presidents Gather for His Funeral. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired July 30, 2020 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[10:31:10]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: We come back now with sad news, and that is that Herman Cain -- longtime businessman, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and of course Republican presidential candidate in 2012, the 2012 race -- has died at the age of 74, his death confirmed by his Twitter account.

We should note that he was diagnosed with COVID following his attendance -- and that is a picture there -- at a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma a couple of weeks back. This, just confirmed by Herman Cain's own Twitter account, the death of a longtime businessman as well as Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: He was only 74 years old. Let's read this tweet, and keep it up on the screen. This is, again, his official account.

Quote, "You're never ready for the kind of news we are grappling with this morning, but we have no choice but to seek and find God's strength and comfort to deal."

Our thoughts are with his family. But of course, today -- and Jim, again, as you said -- quite a successful businessman, quite a career leading Godfather's Pizza. He started his career back in the mid-'70s, working at Coca-Cola. He went on to Pillsbury, went on to Burger king, became president of the National Restaurant Association.

And then of course I think the -- you know, so many came to know him when he did run for president, back in 2011 and the 2012 campaign. Of course, during that, he penned his memoir, "This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House."

Again, a supporter of the president who went to that rally on June 20th -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: He did. And we should note, a trailblazer as a black executive in this country --

HARLOW: Yes. SCIUTTO: -- chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, went on to be the

president of the National Restaurant Association, the son of a domestic worker and a janitor, who went on to achieve enormous success. But of course, another American of those more than 150,000 who now lost their lives to COVID.

Joe Johns, a remarkable life. And notable, must be noted that he apparently was infected at a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, is that right?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know. But we do know that he went to that Trump rally in Tulsa, and we also know that there were numerous people -- some Secret Service agents, a couple staffers I think here at the White House -- who were found to be positive for coronavirus. And right around that timeline, that's when, not long after, he showed up at the hospital.

And also important to say that Herman Cain had recovered from cancer previously, which made him a high-risk individual, should he be exposed to coronavirus.

And you're right, a really remarkable life. He was also a Federal Reserve official, a very colorful character and having covered a little bit of his presidential campaign, albeit briefly, he really stuck out as one of the more colorful and interesting, certainly, African-Americans to ever seek the top job over here at the White House. Back to you.

SCIUTTO: Thanks, Joe Johns, at the White House there. Herman Cain, dead at the age of 74.

Well, the coronavirus pandemic has now led to the worst quarterly economic drop in U.S. history, as recorded. The economy, shrinking 32.9 percent, a third.

[10:35:01]

And now, a group of 13 CEOs from the biggest names in travel are urging the president and Congress to act to secure more and faster testing. That is the key to reopening the economy, the group writing in a letter, "Testing enables reopening. Testing enables rehiring. Testing enables recovery."

With me now is one of the CEOs who signed that letter, Jonathan Tisch. He is chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels. Mr. Tisch, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

JONATHAN TISCH, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, LOEWS HOTELS: Jim, thank you for having me.

And if I may just have a personal note of reflection, when Herman Cain was president of the National Restaurant Association, I was chair of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. We worked together for many, many years. And just a first-class individual who loved our industry and loved supporting the men and women who are, in today's world, attempting to still make a living in travel and tourism. SCIUTTO: No question. I'm glad you shared that, thank you, Mr. Tisch.

To the economy here, you, these other CEOs are making a point that many economists have made, as well as health officials -- but economists, that to open the economy, you need to get a handle on the outbreak first, in effect. Tell us in particular how that is true in the travel industry?

TISCH: Well, certainly, we as an industry, every segment of travel and tourism, we are all working together. You saw that the CEOs who signed on were from the once-thought-of-disparate entities of travel and tourism: airlines, credit card companies, lodging. But now, we work together, we speak with a unified voice.

So through the U.S. Travel Association, we wrote to our leaders, our government officials who need to help us understand the issues, and then find a path forward so that we can reopen hotels, so that we can make people feel safe about traveling. That is the key. Not only do our team members have to be safe -- and that is first and foremost in our thinking -- but our guests are going to want to feel safe. So it has to do with protections, it has to do with wearing masks.

Those are the kinds of issues that will help us in terms of the health side of this. The economic side of this will be greatly enhanced in terms of some of what we're asking for: tax credits for individual travel, a reintroduction of the business meals deduction, liability waivers. Those are the kinds of things that we outlined in our letter. That's the kind of assistance we need from our elected officials.

SCIUTTO: OK, what happens when you communicate that to the White House? Because President Trump is a businessman himself, but he has deliberately and publicly downplayed the importance of testing. He said it just makes us look bad. Meanwhile, more Americans are getting infected here. Do you -- is anyone listening to you in the Trump administration when you make these points?

(CROSSTALK)

TISCH: Well (ph), Jim, sadly, the numbers in our industry speak for themselves. Some 16 million men and women, dedicated men and women, used to make a living in the travel and tourism industry. Our industry is running at 50 percent unemployment -- 11 percent across the nation, 50 percent in the travel and tourism industry.

We have to find a way, working with our elected officials through testing, through some of the enhancements that are being discussed in the bills currently in front of Congress, to stimulate travel. There is an estimate that one percent of all hotel rooms in the country -- some 60,000 hotel rooms -- could be wiped out. The number in New York, where we run our business from, is worse. There's an estimate that --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

TISCH: -- 20 percent of the hotel rooms in New York City could be wiped out. So we need help in many, many ways. But it gets back to ensuring that

the men and women who are so dedicated to doing their jobs are able to come back to work, provide a service that is appreciated by our guests.

SCIUTTO: How about folks -- in terms of unemployment insurance, because the enhanced benefit is about to expire in a few days, with no agreement on Capitol Hill. You have thousands and thousands of workers in the travel industry, as you mentioned, who are out of work. What does that mean to them? Do they need that support to go forward?

TISCH: They certainly do need the support. And hopefully the conversations on Capitol Hill will continue to find a way forward. It's very important that they have their support.

It has been a very difficult proposition, it's been a very bumpy road to reopen hotels. When we started this process in local jurisdictions that allowed us back in June, early July, we were feeling pretty good. But then clearly, as we talk about every moment -- you've discussed on the show for the last hour -- it is very challenging in this environment to keep hotels open to provide a climate that people want to travel.

And then layer over all the reasons why you are concerned about travel: safety, the economics. Now this whole conversation about whether your kids are going back to school? That's even going to have an impact because, yes, people are getting in their cars this summer, they're driving to a destination. But schools in theory start to open mid-August, are they going to want to do that?

[10:40:11]

SCIUTTO: Yes.

TISCH: If they have to worry which of the partners is going to stay home with their son or daughter, that does not provide an environment that people feel good about traveling.

SCIUTTO: Yes, you can't force people to get on planes, you want them to be comfortable before they do it.

Finally, if I can, you're also a treasurer of the New York Giants, happens to be my football team. But given the outbreaks, we've already seen players opting out. And the fact that this is tackle football, after all, you know, no way to stop physical contact there. Can an NFL season truly happen safely for the players?

TISCH: Well, certainly, so much is being done, so much has been discussed, so much has been examined, millions of dollars on research. The idea is to play football once again with the players' safety first and foremost. If the games happen -- and we certainly hope they will -- there are so many places where there will be no fans, so be it. But at least the game will be played.

The key is to make sure that it is safe for the players, safe for our coaches, safe for all. And I think that is the focus of the NFL and the 32 teams. Training camps are starting literally as we speak, all kinds of (INAUDIBLE) place. But hopefully we will, with the players as our partners, we will find a way to play games in a safe manner.

SCIUTTO: We hope so. Jonathan Tisch, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

TISCH: Thanks, Jim.

HARLOW: Well, this morning, family and friends are gathering right now at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta for the funeral of the late Congressman John Lewis. You will hear his final words, after this.

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HARLOW: In just minutes, the funeral for Civil Rights icon and Congressman John Lewis will begin in Atlanta.

SCIUTTO: Former President Barack Obama will deliver the eulogy at the iconic -- the historic -- Ebenezer Baptist Church. These are live pictures now from inside. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will also be in attendance.

HARLOW: So right now, as you see all of those who loved him coming into the church, we want to share with you the congressman's last words. In a piece he wrote shortly before his death that was published this morning in "The New York Times," here is the entirety of what he had to say.

He begins by saying this, quote, "While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life, you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society.

"Millions of people, motivated simply by human compassion, laid down the burdens of division around the country and the world. You set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity."

SCIUTTO: "That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself, that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

"Emmett Till was my George Floyd, he was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never, ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me.

"In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality, committed for no understandable reason, were the bars."

HARLOW: "Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles, or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road, into a nightmare.

"If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concert- goers in Las Vegas, and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

SCIUTTO: "Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out or, some might say, a way in. And then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio.

"He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out.

"When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we call the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

"Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it."

[10:50:04]

HARLOW: "You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes through decades and centuries before you.

"The truth does not change, and that is why the answers, worked out long ago, can help you find the solutions to our challenges of this time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe, because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.

"Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring."

SCIUTTO: "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide."

Powerful words, meaningful words, timely words from the late John Lewis.

HARLOW: And now, it is incumbent, as he said, on all of us, to do that. Thank you very much for joining us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. John King and Victor Blackwell, they're going to pick up our special coverage of Congressman John Lewis' funeral, right now.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our special coverage, remembering the late Congressman John Lewis. I'm Victor Blackwell in Atlanta.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: And I'm John King in Washington.

We bid farewell to a hero today, a Civil Rights icon and legendary congressman whose path to history began on a farm in Troy, Alabama, preaching to chickens. The life of John Lewis will be celebrated today by three former presidents: Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will deliver tributes; then Barack Obama will eulogize the man he says made his historic election possible.

BLACKWELL: The family is now arriving at historic Ebenezer Baptist Church here in Atlanta. This is the home church of his mentor, the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., also the home church of the congressman himself. Churches across the country will soon ring their bells to honor the late congressman.

KING: And in normal times, where Victor Blackwell is today, we would see an overflowing crowd, both inside and outside that very special church. But because of the COVID-19 precautions, only about 240 people allowed inside, about half of them Lewis family members. Victor there, setting the scene for us.

BLACKWELL: Yes, John, 240 people inside, but there are scores of people outside, a little more than -- by my count -- 100, the crowd is thickening here. And I went out to speak with some people about why they came here. Of course, this is airing on CNN, it's airing also on local stations as well.

Why they came here? One man said that when you live here and he is your congressman, there is a connection. There was another woman who was on the edge of a tear when I mentioned Congressman Lewis' name and said she lives just down the street from where we are here at Ebenezer, and she said there was no place that she would rather be. There are some people here with signs, with T-shirts with his name and face on them, and people here just holding the American flag.

Of course, you know, in this part of the city, this area is steeped in the history of the fight for Civil Rights across this country. I passed John Lewis Freedom Parkway to get here. There are streets named for Ambassador Andrew Young and several other leaders of the Civil Rights era. We know that Reverend Lowery, there is a street for him as well. Reverend Dobbs as well. This is an area that respects and honors the fight that happened 50,

60 years ago, and many people here today as well.

Now, Alabama was where he was born, but he became an Atlanta institution, as people have told me here. This is his beloved adopted hometown where he represented the Fifth District of Georgia for 17 terms. And there are people who came to the state capitol to say goodbye, here in Georgia, on Wednesday.

[10:55:00]

We also know -- and if you hear some drums here behind me, I just want to tell you that this is the beginning of the services -- we have a big screen out here for those hundreds of people, as the crowd grows, who are watching the services.

I want to go to Andrea Young, she's executive director of the ACLU in Georgia, also Ambassador Andrew Young's daughter, a family friend of the late congressman John Lewis.

Andrea, if I have to interrupt our conversation, that will be for the start of the services and we don't want to miss any of that. But you know, his legacy is not just for the people here in Atlanta or the state of Georgia, but across the globe, as I've learned more intensively over the last several weeks. What does this moment mean to you as we say goodbye to the late congressman?

ANDREA YOUNG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU OF GEORGIA: Well, you know, people have talked about the passing of the torch. And John Lewis who, as a very young man, you know, was part of a world-changing event when he was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, March 7th, 1965. Within two weeks, the world had changed. And I think you'll hear President Obama speak about that.

But this is a movement that inspired the world, that some -- and no one exemplified it more than John Lewis, someone who grew up in the most humble of circumstances, and yet is now being eulogized by presidents. Through his own work, through his own faith, through his own persistence.

And so I think it is (INAUDIBLE) to the power of a movement to change and change the nonviolence.

BLACKWELL: You had the good fortune of knowing him your entire life, good friends with your father, Ambassador Andrew Young. Tell me about that side, the personal side of the congressman.

YOUNG: So these were -- you know my dad and Dr. King were in their 30s, the SNCC folks like John Lewis and Julian Bond were in their 20s. You know, these were young people. And so they would party, they would come to our home and, you know, we would -- because of segregation, almost everything took place in your home or the church.

And I just want to also lift up Lillian Lewis. When Lillian Miles came to Atlanta in the late '60s, I mean, she just brought this glamour, this sophistication. She was committed to the global struggle for African -- you know, for African people everywhere. She had lived and worked in Africa.

And their partnership is so much a part of the John Lewis story. They were a tremendous team that I really also think very much contributed to him being able to fulfill his potential and be the leader that he has been for these many, many decades.

I was able to be a part of -- you know (INAUDIBLE) 2012, but Lillian, we also have to lift up. Lillian and John were always -- we said those names together because of the impact that their partnership (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKWELL: They were married right in this church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, in 1968. And (ph) her (ph) funeral here, the late Lillian Miles Lewis, in 2013. Andrea Young, thank you so much for speaking with us for a few moments.

Let's send it back to John in Washington -- John.

KING: And, Victor, as we wait for the services to formally begin, let's retrace some of the history. John Lewis was, until we lost him, living history. At the age of 23, the youngest speaker, June 1963, the March on Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN LEWIS, THEN-CHAIRMAN, STUDENT NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE: We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen, we are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail, over and over again.

And then you holler, be patient.

How long can we be patient? We want our freedom, and we want it now.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And recently, at the age of 80, as cancer made his days scarce, John Lewis, connecting the blood he shed on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the racial reckoning across America today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEWIS: When I had been beaten on the bridge, I thought I saw death. I thought I was going to die. And I said a little prayer.

The past few days, been so inspiring to me. I see so many young people, so many children in (ph) adversity (ph), it gives me great hope. And we're going to get there. It's all going to work out. But we must help it work out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining us to discuss as we await the beginning of these services, our chief political correspondent Dana Bash, our political commentator Van Jones, and CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip. Van, I want to start with you.

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